Written by Jasmine Gurung.
Photo Credit: John Higgitt (Instagram/@johnhiggittphotography) from Unsplash.
(The following article reflects the writer’s own personal experiences and opinions.)
With the Black Lives Matter movement creating a change in accountability and former President of Bondi Sands, I mean America, Donald Trump’s ‘CHINA’ rants being reported globally in 2020, there is more of a spotlight on anti-Asian hate crimes. But seeing these recent reports has not shocked me one bit. Asians are usually the butt of many insidious and, usually, stupid ‘jokes’ and it comes as no surprise harmless little jokes snowball into violent racism.
These remarks come at different levels of ignorance. The first level is the unknowingly insensitive comments like, “you’re my favourite Asian.” Comments that make a person of colour (POC) feel some type of way, but not bad enough you would be running to HR to sing like a canary about. When I hear this remark, I realise I’m not your favourite Asian (are we a breed of dog to be seen as a favourite? I guess I’m seen as a poodle now), I’m probably the only unfortunate Asian that you know. The people that are in this level are ignorant, yes, but I almost feel bad for them because they can’t comprehend what is wrong with a comment like that. It comes from a good place but their delivery makes them seem almost as air-headed as Homer Simpson and I feel like Lisa trying to explain something that they probably won’t understand.
“You would know about maths, wouldn’t you?” That’s the second level. These ‘harmless’ digs that allude to a stereotype normally don’t offend me too much. I’ve heard worse but this overused joke just annoys me now, on the account that every person that’s ever said this to me is clearly unimaginative and unfunny. This joke also stems from the fact that many Asian immigrant parents want the best for their children, so I see this as a loving attribute turned into something to ridicule. The people in this level are ignorant, and they know they are. Inevitably, the excuse of dark humour is used and of course, if you have a problem with these comments; you’re a killjoy.
And finally, the third level comes in with the blatantly racist remarks like being called a ‘ch*nk’. Or even worse, they squint their eyes and pull the side of their heads to make squinty-eyed jokes (which will give you wrinkles faster, so enjoy looking like a raisin at 21). Yes, I’ve had an ex-boyfriend’s mum call me that term and when she saw the shock in my face, I was told to lighten up, not take it so seriously, laugh it off. These kinds of people don’t understand why it is awful to call someone that, or maybe they do, and they just don’t care. Again, sometimes dark humour is used as a scapegoat and people actually do get away with it. Just look at our wonderful leader in Number 10, who called Muslim women ‘letterboxes’ and is excused with having a ‘weird sense of humour’. And here I thought a weird sense of humour was laughing at Pepe memes.
To finish off my points, I’m not trying to speak for all Asians, but I am trying to speak to all non-Asians saying these things and let you know: you’re not funny. Remarks like these start off as mild digs and before you know it, no one takes racial discrimination seriously, Asians start getting attacked, people die. I’m still shocked people are needing to be taught about racism, in the age where research and knowledge is at our fingertips. So please, pick up a book, unlock your phone, march to the bloody library if you have to and educate yourself.